You may remember that at the beginning of April, in my April Goals post, I shared that I was going to attempt to give up sugar for the month of April (excluding our five days in Italy). I received a lot of interest on this topic, so I figured I’d share my experience with cutting out sugar for 30 days! Today is the last day of the challenge, perfect timing for a little recap!
Going into this challenge, I knew it was going to be tough. Yes, I gave up alcohol for a month (twice) and yes, I gave up meat for forty days, but sugar … Just to give you a little background on where I started, before the challenge, I had gotten in an awful habit of eating candy almost every single day at work. It’s free at my office, like canisters upon canisters of Chewy Spree, M&Ms, Mike and Ike … you name it. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, and Michael and I generally keep ice cream on hand at home. I’d say I ate dessert after dinner at least five nights a week (not a lot, maybe just a couple of spoonfuls of ice cream, but still).
Not only did I know that kicking these two habits was going to be difficult, I knew that there were hidden sugars in a lot of the foods I was eating, and I wanted to cut those out too. For example, greek yogurt, bagels, pasta … All staples in my diet, but they have tons of added sugar! Michael and I usually use Instacart for grocery delivery, but right before we started this challenge, we went to the grocery store for a big haul so we could really look at the labels on the foods we were eating. For the most part, we generally eat pretty healthy when we’re at home (we cook at home at least four nights a week). There were three things that I had to cut out of my diet that were pretty big staples for me: yogurt, bagels, and granola (I tried making my own sugar-free version, not the same). I found a brown rice pasta brand that has zero sugars and actually tastes pretty good (Jovial).
This challenge was much more difficult than giving up alcohol or meat. Going into it, I thought that the first week or two might be hard, but I thought that after that it would be smooth sailing. Wrong. The first two to three days were the absolute hardest. I had a serious headache the first few days, I could tell a dramatic difference in my energy levels, and I was SO hungry by the time the afternoon rolled around. These symptoms passed after a few days though.
The hardest part for me is the post-dinner dessert. I still crave something sweet after dinner. And I miss yogurt.
What I Learned
Going into this challenge, I was expecting to physically feel so much better. Like when I cut out alcohol, there’s a noticeable difference in how I physically feel. But that didn’t really happen. Although I haven’t physically felt different, mentally, I feel great. There’s something nice about knowing I’m not putting crap into my body on the regular.
I learned through this process that sugar is in fact addictive. The fact that I had withdrawal-like symptoms over the first few days was enough to convince me of the addictive nature of sugar. Something like that can’t be good for us, right?!
The entire process was a learning experience. I learned what breads have only 1 gram of sugar (Vermont Bread), I learned that I should add my own fruit to plain greek yogurt instead of buying the fruit flavored yogurt, I learned that gluten-free brown rice pasta is just as good as other boxed pastas, and I found a new brand of almond milk and coconut creamer that I love (Califia Farms)!
Will I Continue to Cut Out Sugar?
The short answer: yes, but not completely. I plan on sticking to no candy during the work week (it’s just unnecessary). I plan on putting what I learned to use. I’ll definitely be adding greek yogurt back into my diet, but like I mentioned, I’m trying to stick to the plain yogurt and add toppings of my own. I now know to look at the back of the granola bags and pick the one with the least amount of sugar. And I’m definitely going to attempt to keep the post-dinner desserts to a minimum. I love ice cream too much to cut this out completely.
Have you completed a no-sugar challenge? What was the hardest part? What were the takeaways?! Any zero sugar foods I should try?! Drop your thoughts in the comment section below!